Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Junior Traveler: Experiences That Made Me See Myself as a Person

The piece below was written by my daughter in her school essay. I am happy that she considers her past travels as one of her best experiences while growing up. The photos were added by me. 

As I safety precaution, I have blotted out (like I always do in this blog) the kid's faces on the more recent photos but left the photos taken more than ten years ago untouched except for me and my wife.

I have also retitled the essay to "The Junior Traveler" just for this blog, from the original  "Experiences That Made Me See Myself as a Person"

The Junior Traveler
(Experiences That Made Me See Myself as a Person)
Nicole Pan Caceres

Traveling to different parts of the world made the most impact in my growing years. It exposed me to the varied cultures and traditions of different countries that I have visited.

I had a privilege to be raised by a family who believes that learning goes beyond the confines of the classroom. They enrolled me to schools with curricula friendly for those that travel a lot like us.

My very first travel out of the country was in Bangkok when I was two years old. At a very young age, all I could remember were the purple plane seats and the Golden Temples.

At first it didn’t make sense at all, but when we returned ten years later at twelve years old, this time with my little brother, aided with my past readings about Bangkok, memories of my very first visit in this place played like a slow motioned- flashback in my mind.

It was a tremendous learning process.

From then on, I traveled far and wide with my family. I was lulled to sleep as a child in my stroller by the thundering roar of the mighty Niagara Falls, walked the crookedest street in the world in San Francisco, explored the flower filled countryside of Holland, stared at the bizarre looking the Atomium in Brussels and awed at the sight of Eiffel tower in Paris.

I have enjoyed picking up colorful bead necklaces thrown by the revelers on a Mardi Gras in New Orleans, explored the historic old town of San Diego, and marveled at the ancient ruins in Athens.

 I have experienced the busy but exciting lifestyles in the bustling cities of New York and Los Angeles, the quaint university town of Boston and the peace and quiet of a paradise island of Guam.

I have gone ghost hunting on my15th birthday in the beautiful city of Prague,dined in what used to be animal shelter in the medieval town of Cezky Kromulov, and walked along the cobbled streets of the dainty Victorian city of Carlovy Vary, all in the Czech Republic.

I had the chance to cross the border on what used to be the Berlin Wall in Germany, and cried my heart out after visiting Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, as a five year old toddler and as a teenager..

All these travels to the Western World were eye opening experiences for a young girl from an impoverished country like me. It’s a different world out there- culturally modern and economically diverse from our country.

I have also seen our Asian neighbors up close, from the ultra modern Hong Kong, to the immaculately clean Singapore. I have been to the exotic Bangkok, beautiful Kuala Lumpur and the traffic laden streets of Jakarta. I have crawled at the underground rebel tunnels of Ho Chi Minh and even had a great time wakeboarding in Ancol.

Traveling to these places made me realize how we lagged behind with other countries, a painful lesson to learn but a challenge for us Filipino youths to strive and be at par with the rest of the world in the future. We are the future.

I have also traveled locally and was exposed to the different indigenous cultures in our country. I had a chance to explore the pine forests of Baguio and Dahilayan, admired the magnificent Philippine Eagle in Davao and personally touched Magellan’s Cross in Cebu.

 Seeing the ancient churches of Bohol, CagayanValley and Iloilo made me realize the rich cultural Spanish heritage of our country.

I grew up with the beautiful memories of playing on the pristine beaches of Subic, Mactan, Misibis, Guimaras and Caramoan.

I cannot forget screaming with delight while white water rafting in Cagayan de Oro, learning how to surf in Bagasbas, and bask on an all natural high while wakeboarding in CamSur, my hometown.

My childhood is filled with memories of the happiest place on earth- Disneyland, may it be in Anaheim, Hong Kong and Paris.

Traveling made me what I am today. A teenager, cognizant of people’s differences in race, cultural beliefs, traditional practices and social idiosyncrasies. Traveling taught me to be open- minded and respect others whoever they are, wherever they may be.

I am only sixteen and some may wonder if I ever went to school with all those traveling.

How could it be possible? With the help of mixed progressive school curriculum of the Village Montessori School and home schooling programs from My Space and Seibo College. These great schools made the whole world my classroom and my playground as well.

These are the invaluable experiences that made me see myself as a person. It’s a humbling coming of age experience.

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